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Mugwort: a medicinal (and magical) weed

5 min read

Tall and robust with dark green lobes for leaves, mugwort, or Artemisia Vulgaris, is a weed that has many wonderful virtues. This perennial plant grows basically anywhere, along roadsides, railroads, and riverbanks to waste places and fields. It is so common that many of us will walk by it without giving it a glance.
However, it has long been used in medicine, around the house, and even by those who believe in magic!

Mugwort is highly versatile and easy to grow herb that is found fairly regularly in many modern magical practices, including incense, smudging, or in spellwork.
Also known as a psychic/lunar herb, is said to enhance divination and psychic dreaming, and It is purported to have protective properties.
The botanical name “Artemisia Vulgaris” honors the Greek goddess, Artemis. Like its namesake, the plant is associated with the moon, cycles, women’s health, and childbirth.
In fact, it has been used to help women through all the stages of their lives, from regulating the menstrual cycle and easing its symptoms, to facilitating childbirth and helping to make menopause more bearable. However, this plant stimulates the uterus and menses, and pregnant women should never use this plant, as it can cause miscarriage or premature labor.

This weed has a high magnesium content, which is very nourishing. With the presence of the active component, borneol, mugwort is excellent for alleviating muscle aches and pains.
It is used also in traditional Chinese medicine as moxa. The aged, dried herb is lit and used above the surface of the skin to create gentle warmth that helps improve circulation and increase blood and lymph flow to areas of the body, reducing pain and inflammation.

In Asia, mugwort flavors tea and rice dishes while, in western cultures, it is often used as a culinary herb for poultry and pork. Before the rise of hops in the beer-making process, mugwort was added to flavor the ale.
The herb stimulates gastric juice and bile secretion, promoting digestion, especially after eating fatty foods. The plant also eases gas and bloating, improves the absorption of nutrients, and strengthens the entire digestive system.

In the garden, mugwort has been historically used in a powdered form to repel moths. Some natural gardeners also use it by laying branches between rows of onions and carrots to discourage the insect and other pests.

Mugwort grows around the world, and so many cultures have different uses for it.
The Aztecs considered mugwort a sacred plant and used it for incense. In witchcraft traditions, it has long been used to induce lucid dreaming, for astral projection, and to enhance psychic powers. When placed in a pouch under a pillow, the dried flowering tops of the plant are said to promote vivid dreams. Native Americans also burned mugwort to purify the spiritual and physical environment around them. In ancient China, Japan, and Europe, people would use the weed to ward off evil spirits.

In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as Cingulum Sancti Johannis, as it is believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle of it in the wilderness, and there were many superstitions connected with it.
For example, it was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue, sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits generally. In fact, a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John’s Eve to gain security from evil possession.
Moreover in some countries, including Holland and Germany, mugwort is called by colloquial name of St. John’s Plant, and It earned this folkloric title because it was believed that if you waited until St. John’s Eve to gather your mugwort, it would provide you with an extra protection against illness or bad luck.
In European folklore, Mugwort shields against injury, fatigue, and poisons, while Romans would put this herb on their shoes to ward off fatigue on long journeys.

Mugwort was used also in Anglo-Saxon Britain to cure people who had fallen victim to so-called “elf shot”, which seems to be a catch-all term used for people who had become sick, their illness being blamed upon the invisible arrows of the Fae. Thus mugwort was used to cast out demonic possession, by heating a large stone in the fireplace, then sprinkling it with mugwort, and adding water to create a steam for the patient to inhale.

A tradition of shamanism rooted in northern European practices refers to mugwort as one of nine sacred herbs.
This is the plant of Midgard, burned at the start of a ritual. One starts and ends with Mugwort, as one starts and ends with Midgard, and Its shamanic purpose is purification.
Native American tribes used mugwort leaves to rub on one’s body as protection from ghosts. The leaves could also be worn as a necklace.

Mugwort can be burned as incense or even smoked, blend with other herbs such as sage, mullein, and motherwort.
In modern magic, its main use is for psychic visions and prophetic dreams. This herb does have psychoactive properties that induce lucid dreaming and astral traveling, and It is also said to help confront difficult truths.
Other ways to use mugwort include baths or incense in rituals focusing on treating depression while, if you place it under your pillow, you can prevent astral attacks, or to ward off psychic attacks from those who would do you harm.
Plant mugwort in your garden to attract the Fae, or create a magic broom with it woven into it, and use it to sweep negative energies from your home!

Images from web – Google Research